A/N: To every one who left the first reviews... I just realized that the reason there were no quotation marks was because the formatting had been messed up... I couldn't figure out why everyone kept telling me why we used quotation marks. I know what quotations marks are! Stupid Fictionpress... :mumbles:

Once there was a beautiful princess who fell in love with a prince. He was perfect in every way, except for one thing... He was already dead...

Long ago, in the land of Montium, there was a well-to-do kingdom of Carpathia, ruled by a kind and well-to-do set of royalty, King Iter and Queen Patricia. All of the kingdom loved them and their wise reign and all of the kingdom rejoiced when they made the public announcement that the Queen had given birth to a healthy baby girl. The child was called Sophia and she was a wonderful princess. She was beautiful and talented, with bright blond curls and twinkling blue eyes, and a gift for music. Over time it became apparent that she was slightly empty headed, but this didn't concern the king and queen too greatly for the first few years. After all, it was normal for every preteen princess to be obsessed with clothing and boys.

However, her private tutor was hugely displeased with the princess's lack of progress in her schoolwork, and he urged the king and queen to speak with their daughter on the matter. They did so and found that she did indeed love the subject of history. This pleased them to no end and to feed her interest, they gave her a very special gift for her fifteenth birthday; a copy of 'The Rise, Reign and Lineage of the Kings of Montium and the Countries Within', the most up-to-date and precise book on the history of Montium, having exactly nine thousand and four pages and weighing a grand total of forty three pounds and three ounces. Princess Sophia hugged and thanked her parents over and over and over again, then rushed up to her room on the twenty-third level of the sixteenth tower, bolted the door behind her and began to read.

She read day in and day out for two whole weeks, barely coming out to eat or drink and sleeping only when her eyelids fell like lead from exhaustion. King Iter and his wife were extremely worried. Had their gift somehow turned against them and would the princess kill herself if she kept this up? However their concerns bore no fruit; for on the fourteenth day after receiving the book, Sophia emerged from her room with a smile on her face, perfectly well, if a little thinner.

"I do believe I am in love," she announced abruptly as she came down the steps. The king and queen looked at each other in alarm, wondering what might have gone on in the high tower.

"With whom, dear?" Queen Patricia asked her daughter with motherly concern. The princess batted her eyelashes and looked as though she were going to swoon for a moment, then straightened and beamed a bright smile at her parents.

"Prince Lionel Hubert Patrick III, " she said among a lovestruck sigh. Her parents looked at each other again, this time with their eyebrows nearly touching their hairline.

"But Sophia," King Iter said cautiously, "You do know that Prince Lionel has been dead for nigh on three years?"

"Missing in action!" Sophia screeched like a banshee and the servants in the corners of the castle cowered and covered their ears. But the princess still wore the innocent smile of a girl fallen deeply in love and she hugged her parents lightly and ran off down the hallway.

"He is only missing," she called over her shoulder as her shoes made little tittering noises against the ground. "Only missing. And I shall find him and we shall marry and live happily ever after."

Then she was gone around a corner. King Iter and Queen Patricia looked at each other once again and the king put a comforting arm around his wife. Where had they gone wrong, that their daughter of fifteen years was in love with a prince who was most likely dust by now? They heard hoof beats outside the castle and rushed to the window together to see Sophia, her blond hair streaming behind her like golden ribbons, galloping away on her bright bay mare.

Prince Lionel Hubert Patrick III had been the crown prince of the kingdom of Seedem, across the river to the north. He had been only two or three years older than Sophia and in fact, the king and queen had considered him as a husband for their daughter when the time came for her to marry. However, four years ago, there had been a great mourning in Seedem and a messenger informed King Iter and Queen Patricia that the good prince had been attacked and carried off by a dragon while on a hunting party. It was well known that dragons craved the blood of maidens and royals, and the prince had been as royal as they come. None of the fellows with him had actually seen him die, but it was taken as fact that he was indeed dead. And now Sophia had found him in her history book, which, being so up-to-date, had naturally included the Prince's supposed death, along with a full color two page spread portrait of him. He had dashing blue eyes and rugged blond hair, with just a hint of stubble that the artist had undoubtedly added on his own, since it was a bit premature for a boy who had only been fourteen when the picture had been painted.

The king cursed himself for weeks for ever having given the princess the book, or at least such an up-to-date and accurate edition that would include the prince. He began to lose weight and his skin pulled into wrinkles, with dark circles under his eyes. The queen lovingly doted on her husband, but the strain of knowing that their daughter was out alone on a fool hardy search for a dead prince slowly pulled her down as well. The royal couple aged beyond their years and all in the kingdom feared that their monarchs would die. Brave knights and champions rode out nearly every day in search of the princess and few returned alive. Three months passed and the king and queen were bedridden with a heart condition. The doctors insisted that their hearts were broken and that it was the fear of their daughter's death that plagued them and was to blame.

But Princess Sophia was very much alive. Albeit completely miserable, but alive. When she had first left the castle, she hadn't brought so much as a crumb of food or a drop of water with her. For the first hour, she hadn't noticed or cared. But as another hour slowly dragged by, she became aware of a twisting in her stomach and a growling that she could hear even above the pounding of her horse's hooves. It was uncomfortable, but bearable. In fact, for the first several hours, Sophia was just fine. But after three days with nothing but bitter grass and stale water from rain puddles, the well bred princess with her fine ball gown had been reduced to nothing more than a snarling beast of hunger and misery. Her horse, on the other hand, was plump and well fed, eating the fresh greenery of the spring and well toned from the princess's relentless galloping in search of the lost prince.

That had to be the worst part; not knowing where the prince had been taken or where to search for him. She had started where the dragon had carried her Lionel away and thrown a forked stick in the air. Her stomach growled four times in succession before the twig hit the ground, so she chose a West-ish direction and began to ride. However, for twelve weeks she had wandered hopelessly around in circles, often passing her own horse's hoofprints five and six times, not knowing where or how to look for her beloved, but refusing to let him down; shivering at the bitter cold nights and surviving only by gnawing on tree bark and her horse's saddle and once getting terribly sick after eating the the red and white polka-dotted mushrooms she had read about in biology. She had been unable to remember whether the text had said that they were deliciously tasty and extremely healthy, or HORRIBLY DIGUSTING AND HIGHLY POISONOUS! It turns out they had been the latter.

It had been on the 86th day of her search that she had stumbled upon the farm boy, a strikingly handsome youth plowing in his parents' field with a broken-down, but much-loved draft mule. She had ridden up to him and halted, unable to say a word from sheer exhaustion. He regarded her with surprise, yet somehow, beneath all of the grime, tear stains, grass stains, sweat and overall lack of a healthy body weight, he had managed to identify her as a noble, if not royalty.

"Good day to you, madam," he had said, bowing with extreme grace for a commoner. "How might I be of service?"

"Well my good man, if I could be granted a warm meal for both me and my horse and perhaps a place of shelter for us both, I would be greatly obliged and pay you well," the princess replied. At least she would have, if her mouth hadn't been perfectly dry from dehydration and her muscles unable to work from lack of strength. Instead, what had emerged from her throat had been more of a very unladylike coughing groan and a single, creaking word.

"Ffffoooooooodddd..." It had rasped, then Sophia had tumbled from her horse in a dead faint. The farm boy had gingerly picked her up and carried her into the house, where his mother had 'tsk'ed viciously and set to work brewing a strong beef broth. When Sophia had awakened, she had been spoon fed for three days, then eaten a huge meal of chicken and peas from the farmer's generous garden. She had told the family of the elderly husband and wife and their son of seventeen years, whom she found out to be named Peter, about her quest to find the lost prince. The husband, once a well built working man, but now beginning to shrivel with age, seemed interested and remarked offhandedly to his wife that 'didn't a dragon used to nest nearby on the eastern-most ridge of the second mountain to the left on the range facing the morning sun?'

"Is there really?" Princess Sophia asked eagerly before she could hide her excitement. The man considered his own words and nodded finally. The princess was so excited she leaped up from the table and out to the stables, where her horse was comfortably chewing on a mouthful of sweet hay. She hurriedly saddled the mare, but as she mounted, she noticed Peter coming out of the house with an armful of provisions and two goatskins full of fresh water slung over his shoulder. Sophia started to thank him and take the provisions, mentally slapping herself for not learning from her last mistake of leaving without being prepared, when the boy coolly walked past her to the mule, onto whom he began to carefully arrange a saddle and pad, shoving the supplies into a saddle bag. Sophia watched him for a moment, then couldn't stop herself from asking what he thought he was doing.

"I'm going with you to make sure you don't kill yourself," the boy replied, not looking at her. Sophia's mouth opened and closed like a fish for a moment, being unable to remember the last time a person lower on the hierarchy than herself had dared to speak that way to her. She realized that it was doing that as a thin stream of saliva dripped from the corner of her lip and she secretly glad that Peter couldn't see the silly expression of stupid bewilderment on her face before she wiped it away.

They argued about it for a moment (Sophia again being quite unable to remember anyone with the audacity to use such a forceful tone with her other than her parents), but it was finally settled with Sophia stamping her foot and pouting and Peter giving a satisfied smile.

But that mule won't be able to keep up with my bay. Sophia finally said desperately, trying a final whine to keep the farm boy from accompanying her. He was VERY handsome and she continually, but mentally, slapped herself for thinking that; unable to think that thought while her prince was in danger, waiting to be rescued, just so he could marry her and they live happily ever after. However, the plea was no good and together, Peter and the Princess left the farm, heading towards the mountain range on the left facing the morning sun. The boy's parents watched them go, shaking their heads at the princess's emptyheadedness and their son's chivalry in helping the lady in distress.

However, it was just when the twosome were out of sight of the house when they were attacked. The first warning came as the two animals they rode beginning to grow nervous. Then a plume of smoke appeared in the sky and before either of them could respond, a great dragon descended from the clouds and snatched Sophia from her saddle in it's claw. The great beast bellowed once from deep in it's throat and flew back into the sky. The princess watched the ground fall sharply away beneath her feet. Her stomach, that had only so recently regained that pleasantly full feeling, emptied itself and Sophia hoped desperately that none of it's contents would hit Peter. It would have been awful for him to have offered to help her and she repaid him with a gut load of stew. It was simply not ladylike or polite. She heard him call after her, but she didn't quite make out what it was. He became a speck below her, then was lost from sight among the other specks that Sophia thought, but couldn't be sure, were mountains.

Oddly, where she should have felt fear, all Sophia felt was a great sense of exhilaration. She couldn't think of a reason at all why, but then she remembered that Prince Lionel had been taken by a dragon and wherever the beast had taken him, it was now taking her. This filled her with a great sense of contentment and she happily made herself as comfortable as is possible while clenched in a flying reptile's fist.

The beast carried her for a long time and Princess Sophia must have fallen asleep, for when they landed, she found herself being jarred awake. She looked around first with eagerness, then with increasing confusion as she saw where they were. She had been expecting a rough cave, with skeletons of hapless victims strewn about and her beloved prince in a corner, bravely masking the pain he felt from a wound in his side that she would have to patch with the hem of her dress. However, she found herself looking at the courtyard of a massive castle built entirely from black stone, intricately carved along the turrets and towers with figures writhing in pain. A molten bed of lava flowed sluggishly across the ground in front of them.

Sophia looked around in astonishment. She hadn't expected this kind of exquisitenesses from the brutal dragon that had abducted her one and only true love, for the castle was beautiful in a dark sort of way. However, all this vanished when her eyes fell on a figure standing across the lava river. Her beloved one, Prince Lionel Hubert Patrick III in all his glory, looking for all the world like he had stepped off the pages of her history book. There was no gaping wound in his side, but that was all right, since Sophia's studies hadn't included first aid. She would have run to him immediately, even leaping over the bed of molten rock, but the dragon's claws were still firmly clenched around her middle. So she had to be content with exchanging loving looks with her prince from across the barrier between them.

However, his looks didn't seem to be too loving. Sophia paused in flitting her eyelashes and noticed that he seemed to be rather hard and brooding, completely unimpressed with her beauty, which Sophia knew to be, from many different sources, considerably more than most.

"Oh Lionel, I have come to rescue you," she called, hoping to get some other look out of him other than the one he wore that bordered disgust. His regal eyebrow lifted.

"First of all, it is not Lionel anymore. It is 'Your Royal Majesty, the Supreme Ruler of the Stars and Beyond, the acronym, YRMSRSB or 'yermsurbsub' as it's pronounced, if you don't mind."

Sophia found that her head hurt. "Yes I do mind. How am I supposed to remember 'yummy suburbs' or whatever it was?"

The prince chuckled, but it was not a pleasant sound, not like the bells Sophia had imagined. "I have come up with a mnemonic for it... 'Your Royal Majesty, the Supreme Ruler of the Stars and Beyond.' All of the first letters of the title correspond with 'YRMSRSB'. Now, who are you anyway?"

Sophia's head whirled so much that she realized that the tip of her tongue was protruding from the corner of her mouth. "I'm Princess Sophia of Carpathia and I am deeply in love with you. I read about your capture by the dragon in my history book, 'The Rise, Reign and Lineage of the Kings of Montium and the Countries Within' and so I came here to rescue you so that we can get married and live happily ever after." Sophia found that she was out of breath and she sucked in air furiously.

Prince Lionel... eh... YRMSRSB, laughed harshly. Then followed his long explanation of the situation which, being the way he is, Prince... uh... YRMSRSB winded into a long rambling of nonsense and repetitive making of points that nearly sent Sophia's brain into self destruct mode. Since this has to be a quick story, is already a good five pages long, and I, the author, have artistic privileges, I will now proceed to sum the explanation up for you impatient readers. (You patient readers will just have to use your imaginations on how Pr... eh... YRMSRSB ((ah what the heck, we'll call him Lionel... what he doesn't know won't hurt him)) would say this...)

Lionel is actually a bad guy and had orchestrated his kidnap by the dragon, who happened to start out as what his parents had thought was a puppy and given him for Christmas, for years. The beast had grown big fast and Lionel had hidden it, training it, all part of his master plan. The plan was that the dragon would swoop down while the prince was on his hunting trip and carry him off. They would make there way to a deserted mountaintop, and there Lionel would employ a massive slave workforce in secret and build the might fortress in which they now stood. The entire plot had been convincing enough that everyone would think he was dead and wouldn't bother to come around looking for him. This would free him up tremendously, as dead people can't be expected to rule kingdoms. (though that very thing once did happen in Montium, and it is in Sophia's copy of 'The Rise, Reign and Lineage of the Kings of Montium and the Countries Within', but it is another story for another time) So with plenty of spare time, a virtually impenetrable fortress and no parents nagging at him to get married and rule, Lionel was free roaming to come up with as many evil plots to take over the world as he wished. And to finish up, he wasn't interested in being loved or loving anyone else, so Sophia would have to go into the dungeon.

The princess listened to his speech and by the end, tears glistened in her eyes and she fought hard to keep the horrified look off of her face. The dragon, which cared nothing for sentiment, carried Sophia to the dungeon and locked her inside. The dungeon was cold and wet as they always are and there was even a skeleton across the room from the princess, still in shackles, the bones picked clean by rats and cockroaches. This brings us to the point mentioned earlier, how three months after her disappearance, while her parents are worrying themselves nearly to death for perfectly feasible reasons, Sophia is alive and well, but absolutely miserable.

Oh dear, we are now getting halfway through the fifth page and this was supposed to be a SHORT story. Okay, here we go to cut and wrap this little story. Sophia is miserable, Lionel thinks he's triumphant, when our hero, (he is our hero, okay?) Peter shows up on his trusty mule and bashes his way through the castle, putting a nice lump of Lionel's head on his way through. He meets the dragon and it seems all it lost, but his mule, (you gotta love the old dear) somehow finds a way to balance consistently on two hind legs, throws Peter out of the saddle, and suddenly develops a great skill in karate and the two creatures begin to spar. (artistic license... come on, work with me here...) Peter finds Sophia, sets her free and in a moment of classic romance, professes his true and undying love to her. (kind of quick maybe, but hey, Sophia fell in love with a guy out of a history book) She realizes that while Lionel... ahem, YRMSRSB... may have been her one and only true love, Peter is her one and only truER love.

So they are both happy and go to leave the castle, but they run into the mule and dragon, both of which now have lightsaver candies and are dueling back and forth along a slab of granite that is floating down the lava bed towards a fabulously huge water... eh... lava fall. Peter whistles and the mule reluctantly gives up the fight and comes to him.

Okay so this is going really fast. I mean, I spent a whole two and a half pages about just Sophia and Peter's only shown up in the last two and here I am ending the story with a cheesily written three paragraphs, but this is creative writing, huh? I mean, admit it, confectionary battles between hybrid equines and imaginary/flying/fire breathing reptiles is original right? Anyway, they all make their way back home and there is a little spat about how Sophia can't marry Peter because she's a princess and he's just a dirt farmer, but her wonderful parents (who both completely recover) solve that by knighting him and it is perfectly acceptable for the princess to marry a knight. So they get married and Peter's parents come to live in the castle and they all lived

happily ever after...

(Except Lionel of course. The lump stuck around for a few days and when he came to, he found his dragon in a Darth Vader suit and royal guards everywhere, who arrested him and he lived forever after in the dungeon with a clichéd skeleton picked clean by rats and cockroaches on the wall across from him.)

Written By Katharine Fitzgerald

The author would like to assure everyone that no animals were harmed in the production of this literary work, by lifesavers or any other means, and that the cliché-d skeleton in the dungeon was actually a stage prop and not the real bones of Bigfoot... or anyone else...

A/N: A short story that I wrote for a creative writing class a few years ago. It was supposed to be only a few pages long and it was getting over the limit... and one thing led to another... Craziness. One of my few humor works that I think is actually funny.